What counter top surface options are there for my kitchen?

I知 just beginning to look into the choices in countertops and I must say I知 amazed at all the different materials available now. Can you help me understand the differences?
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

You’re right; the material choices in countertops today are more varied than ever. The most common are laminate, solid surfacing, quartz surfacing, and granite. Other choices are ceramic tile, butcher block, stainless steel, glass, and concrete. Let’s consider the most common types.

Laminate is the least expensive and most practical countertop material to buy and install. It’s a thin veneer available in a wide range of patterns and colors. Granite is the most expensive material. What you get for your money with granite is durability and a natural product where each piece is unique. Solid surfacing is a thick piece of synthetic resin that can look like granite or other materials but has a softer, warmer feel. Quartz surfacing uses synthetic resin to bond crushed quartz and color pigments.

Which you choose depends on your budget, style, and practicality. Today’s high-end kitchens usually call for granite. Many people prefer solid surfacing for its warmer feel to the touch. Laminate offers the widest range of colors and patterns. For a more detailed description of each, plus the pros and cons of ceramic tile, butcher block, stainless steel, glass, and concrete, see our slide show.

 

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There seems to be controversy as to what products can one use to clean and sanitize granite counter tops. What products are the best. I have heard diluted Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Submitted by suejd1